What gets me happier than garden planning? Not much! Some girls are into fashion and manicures, but not me! Planning my garden in winter is one of the best parts of the gardening process. What are your plans for the upcoming garden season? Do you need help with your 2017 garden plan? Let’s start planning now!
Get Your Plan on Paper
How many times have I mentioned the idea of a garden journal? There are many benefits to using one. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a place to record what you’ve done and plan your future gardens. This way, you can look back to see what you planted last year. A journal helps immensely with planning for crop rotation and deciding how much you can plant. Have any of you tried a garden planning app? I haven’t yet but if I found the right one it could be a thing. Some gardeners map their garden plans out on the computer in grids. I’m still in the notebook phase. Graph paper is great too.
After making a list of flowers and vegetables of your choice, map out your existing or planned garden spaces. I have many raised beds, so I draw each one on my paper, make note of what was where last season and go from there. Remember that a garden can be beautiful as well as practical. Leaving room for beneficial flowers and herbs can help your plants along and host many pollinators. You may have room for Succession Planting. Any structures added to your garden for support can bring style and grace.
Choosing Seeds and Plants
As you plan your garden, try to determine what you will grow from seed and whether you will start or buy seedlings. If you have poor success with starting seeds indoors, maybe you won’t want to put so much effort into it. You may want to purchase a few seedlings at the greenhouse. Winter is the perfect time of year to order seeds. Order early for best availability. Many of our local garden centers have vast seed displays to choose from. Mail order is still a very popular way of obtaining garden seeds.
For more than a few of us, pouring over seed catalogs is a cozy winter pastime. This is the stuff gardening dreams are made of. With snow falling outside, a warm blanket, cozy fire and a hot cup of tea. Catalogs and pen in hand…let the circling begin!
There’s no need to go overboard though. First, do a seed inventory. Figure out which seeds are still good for planting in your collection. Assess what you need and make a list. If you have a small space, you may only be able to plant one or two varieties of each crop. A larger plot will allow more than that. Catalogs can be a bit overwhelming for a new gardener. You will need to decide things like how many days to maturity, perennial vs. annual plants, bush or climbing types. I addressed this in my article Decoding The Seed Packet. The post includes just about all you ever wanted to know about selecting seeds. With so many seed companies out there, why not try a company close to you? Some companies specialize in heirloom varieties, some cater more to market growers.
If this is your first vegetable garden, plan to start out small. What should you think about when Getting Started In The Garden? Many ambitious spring gardeners are left feeling exhausted by late summer because they took on too much. Why not focus on 5 or 6 reliable vegetables, then you can build upon that next year.
Choose a site that offers 8-10 hours of sun a day, a site that is well suited to your landscape and one that is not too far from a water source. You may even need to observe throughout the day how much sun your intended garden spot will get.
Another question to ask yourself is about the harvest. Of course, in the spring we are very eager to see all of those seeds we sow in the ground start to produce. But let’s not forget that garden planning involves planning for the harvest. If you will not be able to pick lettuce every few days, maybe that’s not the vegetable for you. Or if you aren’t planning on canning tomatoes, should you plant 10-20 tomato seedlings? Just some thoughts.
I have to say that I’m really excited about this years garden. I’m not sure if it’s because of this blog or the new ideas that I would like to incorporate. If anything else, I hope to spark some enthusiasm in all of you. Not just to grow your largest garden ever, but maybe a garden that’s better than last year. No matter how much planning we do, factors such as weather and pests can effect the outcome of our garden plans.
Now is the time to plan your 2017 vegetable garden! Get out some paper, make some lists and get thinking about spring! Our weather here has been up and down, hard to know which season it is. Our pair of snow people have both melted into a puddle. I guess that’s what they call January thaw! Thank you for reading this week here at Everlongardener.